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The Care Act 2014 sets out how people’s care and support needs should be met, ensuring local authorities place people’s wellbeing at the centre of all it does. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed considerable pressures on Adult Social Care making it necessary for the Government to introduce Care Act Easements as part of the Coronavirus Act 2020.
The framework has been produced alongside an Ethical Framework for Adult Social Care and all decisions made will be in line with this. Services are facing growing pressures as more people need support because unpaid carers are unwell or unable to reach them, and as care workers are having to self-isolate or unable to work for other reasons.
In Coventry we have made the decision to ease our care act duties. In activating the easements we are temporarily relaxing some of duties under the Care Act 2014. Please be assured that despite this relaxation Adult Social Care in Coventry will continue to work with people with care and support needs, their families and carers and the people and organisations who provide care and support to provide the best care and support possible over this period.
The easements are only in relation to the three areas identified below and not all responsibilities under the Care Act 2014.
Each of the easements and their status in Coventry is as follows:
Local Authorities will not have to carry out detailed assessments of people’s care and support needs in compliance with pre-amendment Care Act requirements. However, they will still be expected to respond as soon as possible (within a timeframe that would not jeopardise an individual’s human rights) to requests for care and support, consider the needs and wishes of people needing care and their family and carers, and make an assessment of what care needs to be provided.
Our ability to complete detailed assessments has been severely impaired as a result of complying with social distancing measures and making essential journeys only. As we are undertaking virtually all of our assessments remotely the usual level of detail cannot be maintained and our ability to operate in a strength based way will be reduced. We will however continue to respond to requests for care and support as soon as possible and prioritise those identified as being high risk. Carers Assessments will continue to be provided by our delegated provider Carers Trust Heart of England with a strong focus on maintaining the wellbeing of carers within the current context.
Local Authorities will not have to prepare or review care and support plans in line with the pre-amendment Care Act provisions. They will however still be expected to carry out proportionate, person-centred care planning which provides sufficient information to all concerned, particularly those providing care and support, often at short notice. Where they choose to revise plans, they must also continue to involve users and carers in any such revision.
Due to the impact of COVID-19 we will not be able to provide in-depth, typed care plans. Although plans will be person-centred in line with the guidance they may not be strengths-based. This will mean that providers of care and support may be asked to provide support with less information that would otherwise have been the case. Through not undertaking routine scheduled reviews the care and support people receive may not match their current support needs, however people will still be able to contact Adult Social Care to request changes to care.
The duties on Local Authorities to meet eligible care and support needs, or the support needs of a carer, are replaced with a power to meet needs. Local Authorities will still be expected to take all reasonable steps to continue to meet needs as now. In the event that they are unable to do so, the powers will enable them to prioritise the most pressing needs, for example enhanced support for people who are ill or self-isolating, and to temporarily delay or reduce other care provision.
This easement does allow adult social care to contact people to discuss temporarily reducing or removing care and support in order to provide care and support to those with the most pressing needs. We have not as yet experienced the depletion of staff and increase in demand that would require us to implement this easement. Should we be required to implement this easement we will contact people with lower level needs to understand the implications of a reduction or removal of care and support and what alternatives may be available. Only essential reductions in care and support will be made and services will be resumed or reinstated at the earliest opportunity. We are committed to discussing and communicating any changes specifically with those affected and their carers and families*.
* Please note following a review we will no longer be using Care Act Easements for our financial assessments, assessments are being undertaken remotely and via our on online assessment tool, this is happening without any delay and is now ‘business as usual’. As per usual processes, social workers will be responsible for discussing contributions and charging with people they are working with and making them aware of the potential for charging.
In addition to the above we have also taken the following steps in respect of specific services:
Our position in respect of the easements is under frequent review to ensure we are acting proportionately in response to the staffing and demand pressures we are facing.
If you have any queries, please contact either:
Andrew Errington (Adult’s Principal Social Worker)
Email: [email protected]
Pete Fahy (Director of Adult Services)
28 April 2020